×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Pulls Set-Top Proposal

Ajit Pai, the new Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC, has removed from the agency’s agenda a proposal designed to foster alternative choices to pay-TV provider-supplied set-top boxes — a prelude to the plan likely being terminated.

The proposal, championed by previous FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, is not officially closed at the agency but it will not be an agenda item for consideration for a vote at this point, according to an FCC rep. The item may be reviewed and could be put back on circulation with modifications, said agency spokesman Mark Wigfield, adding, “It’s standard practice for items to come off the list in a change of administration.”

The move isn’t a surprise: Republican Pai has said he wants to eliminate many of the FCC’s regulations enacted under the Obama administration. “We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation,” he said in a December speech.

The Wheeler-led “open” set-top proposal had been opposed by cable, satellite and telco TV providers, as well as Hollywood studios, TV programmers, music groups, unions and guilds. Critics argued that the plan would impose unnecessary and costly new requirements that wouldn’t really benefit consumers and threaten copyright protections.

MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd cheered Pai’s decision to drop the proposal. “As the creative community has made clear from the start, we support competition within the set-top box market, but not at the expense of copyright policy or the livelihoods of millions of American creators,” Dodd said in a statement.

Wheeler, in a tweet early Tuesday, called Pai’s move a “victory for Cablewood over consumers” — his term for the joint interests of the pay-TV and entertainment industries. He asserted that dropping the proposal amounts to a “$200 million Pai Tax on helpless cable subs. Trump helping little guy??”

Originally, the FCC’s set-top plan would have established an open-standard platform so third-party manufacturers could make devices that could receive pay-TV programming. After strong industry resistance, the FCC last fall revised the proposal to require pay-TV operators to offer free apps on internet-streaming devices. But the agency was forced to call off a vote on it, with officials saying they could not resolve technical and legal issues.

Pai is also expected to train his sites on revising or eliminating the FCC’s network neutrality rules, one of the biggest legacies of the Wheeler regime. Those regulations ban ISPs from discriminating against content sources and regulates broadband services under Title II provisions that previously applied only to telephone service.

Two years ago, Pai called the net neutrality a “secret plan to regulate the internet” in voicing his dissent to the FCC’s Open Internet Order. Large internet companies like Google and Netflix have backed network neutrality, while cable and telco providers are fighting it in federal court.

More Biz

  • Nile Rodgers and Merck Mercuriadis

    Hipgnosis Songs Raises Another $295 Million

    Hot on the heels of its deal to acquire a catalog of 108 Timbaland copyrights, Hipgnosis Songs has raised another $295 million (£231 million) — putting its total to nearly $800 million to date. According to the announcement, a total of 231,000,000 C Shares have been placed by Nplus1 Singer Advisory LLP  and J.P. Morgan [...]

  • Los Angeles Times

    L.A. Times Reaches Agreement With Guild

    The L.A. Times has reached a tentative agreement with the union that represents the bulk of its non-management employees, the paper announced Wednesday. The agreement follows more than a year of negotiations. The 475 reporters, copy editors, photographers and other staff covered by the agreement must still vote for ratification. Assuming it is approved, it [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Accused of Firing VP Who Complained of Gender Pay Gap

    A former vice president at AMC Theatres filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, accusing the company of firing her after she complained that she was paid far less than her male peers. Tonya Mangels, who was vice president of product marketing, said that in March 2018 her supervisor inadvertently sent her a spreadsheet that included [...]

  • Johnny Depp

    Johnny Depp Trial Over Location Manager's Assault Suit Delayed to May

    Update: On Wednesday afternoon, Judge Holly Fujie ordered the trial postponed. A new trial date was set for May 11, 2020. Johnny Depp is expected to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom next week for a trial on a lawsuit alleging that he punched a location manager during the 2017 shoot for “City of Lies.” [...]

  • Stranger Things Season 3

    Netflix Undershoots U.S. Subscriber Adds for Q3, Beats Profit Forecast

    Netflix fell slightly short of its U.S. subscriber forecast in the third quarter — and projected lower Q4 subscriber growth than Wall Street was expecting as competition looms from Apple and Disney. Still, the company reported solid gains, announcing a Q3 record for paid subscriber additions and revenue, and handily topped analyst forecasts for profit. [...]

  • Despacito Luis Fonsi Daddy Yankee

    'Despacito' Tops Vevo's Most-Watched Videos of the Past Decade Chart

    In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, Vevo today announced its Top 10 lists of the decade’s most-watched music videos. Not surprisingly, the Most-Watched Music Video accolade goes to Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” (featuring Daddy Yankee), with 6.4 billion views since its release in early 2017. The second most-viewed video is Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” (featuring Bruno [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content